We have all been working hard this week for a pitch tomorrow – very enjoyable work I might add as it’s coming together well.  On Monday my email ‘pinged’ and that familiar message from the lovely team at Twitter arrived along with it a huge grin of excitement on my face!

MARY QUEEN OF SHOPS – Mary Portas is following your updates – how exciting!  So to celebrate we decided to do a trend-blog around ‘Thrift & Return to Tradition’ as we are looking forward to the new programme: Mary Queen of Charity Shops on 2nd June at 9pm on BBC2!


During the 1930’s and 40’s government agencies promoted traditional home crafts as a way to cope in hard times, with the global credit crunch continuing to strain our finances, and consumer spending at an all time low.  There is without doubt resurgence in the popularity of home economics and old time crafts and the purchasing of bespoke and artisan products.

Hand crafts were once integral to family life with knowledge handed from parent to child, teaching them the skills they would need for adult life.  Mothers taught their girls to sew and cook while fathers would pass on the necessary techniques for household repairs and woodworking.  These skills were particularly valued in the 1940’s when families had to ration and would make essential items rather than buy them.  In fact girls were taught to make their own clothes, jewelry, gifts and ornaments until the 1980’s when feminists deemed traditional crafts to be unfashionable and the rise of fast disposable fashion on the high street made the buying of clothes far more affordable.  In the face of recession young women have once again embraced home crafts as a low cost pastime and a way to create individual, ethical items that have a luxurious bespoke look without having to spend precious pounds.


From 2007-2008 U.K. general goods retailer Argos reported a 50% rise in the sales of domestic sewing machines attributing the boom to a back lash against throwaway society and the downturn in the economy proving that more people are once again becoming enamored with home stitch crafts.  In addition to this a spate of hit new television series have recently emerged encouraging young fashionista’s to pick up a needle and thread to customize old – perhaps bought in a charity shop – and to create brand new clothes and accessories to fit current trends.  British stylist Gok Wan’s ‘Gok’s Fashion Fix’, iconic model Twiggy’s ‘Frock Exchange’, Mary Portas, Mary Queen of Charity Shops coming soon on BBC2 and British Channel 4’s ‘Frock Me’ are but a few.

Writer John Naish has documented what he calls the ‘enoughist’ movement in his influential book, Enough: Breaking Free From the World of More. His text is a campaign against overloading yourself with pointless information, too much food and (encouraged by the environmental imperative) the need to consume. ‘People are feeling a need for more sustainability in their life that was, I think, there before the recession, although the recession has pushed buttons,’ he says. ‘There has been a growing sense that consumerism was becoming decadent and empty, and a response to that has been to look for more value in the way we shop, a return to pre-1950s ‘cradle-to-cradle’ conventions that, for example, made the fact that something had lasted rather than was the latest novelty an emblem of cool.’

A new W.I sisterhood has formed in London’s ultra trendy East London, making up the youngest and arguably most fashion forward Women’s Institute federation on record. ‘The Shoreditch Sisters’ enjoy traditional handicraft crafts and regularly come together to learn sewing, knitting and crochet and already boast celebrity members boosting the current vogue for craft clubbing.

Along with the new craze for home crafting, consumers are now more inclined than ever before to buy homemade, artisan products: fed up with the often poor quality of cheap massed produced goods and in particular are choosing to buy handmade occasional gifts.

It seems the intelligent shopper will continue to seek out handmade and bespoke items, and not limit this to just giftware as the items, be they clothing or home wares, provide the buyer with an individual purchase they can treasure. These products offer a feel good factor as well as a promise of quality that has become ever more important.

Sources: Mudpie  and The Future Laboratory (All links open in a new window)